Knowing but not knowing: providing maternity care in the context of HIV/AIDS in rural Zimbabwe

  • Thubelihle Mathole Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Section for International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala SE-751 85, Sweden
  • Gunilla Lindmark Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Section for International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala SE-751 85, Sweden
  • Beth Maina Ahlberg Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Section for International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala SE-751 85, Sweden; Skaraborg Institute for Research and Development, Stationsgatan 12, 5–541 30 Skövde, Sw
Keywords: Africa, perinatal care, nurses and midwives, occupational risks, stigma, universal precautions, VCT, vertical transission

Abstract

Individual interviews with 25 nurses and midwives revealed their experiences with providing maternity care in rural Zimbabwe. These first-hand accounts especially illuminate the complexities of providing maternity care in the context of HIV/AIDS. The caregivers described feeling troubled by knowing statistics about the magnitude and high prevalence of HIV (from official sources and the media) while they witnessed the increase in disease and the deaths of women, children and colleagues around them. They expressed frustration with a lack of information regarding the HIV status of their female patients — a situation exacerbated by HIV stigma and poor healthcare organisation. The social relationships between the caregivers and women in the study area sometimes meant that the caregivers did not effectively apply universal precautions, such as use of gloves during births. The situation described by the caregivers emphasises that contextual factors must be addressed to meet the increased demands and challenges of providing maternal healthcare in endemic HIV/AIDS countries such as Zimbabwe.

Keywords: Africa, perinatal care, nurses and midwives, occupational risks, stigma, universal precautions, VCT, vertical transission

African Journal of AIDS Research 2006, 5(2): 133–139
Published
2006-09-18
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445